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Goodbye to pedophilia guide
November 11, 2010 1:47 PM   Subscribe

The disappearing act of a pedophilia how-to on Amazon shines a spotlight on Amazon's shaky content guidelines.
posted by morganannie (68 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I trust they'll promptly remove The Cannabis Grow Bible - which also facilitates criminal activity.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:51 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I sense a great purging of book titles from Amazon is about to occur.
posted by edgeways at 1:55 PM on November 11, 2010


Those are... equivalent.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:55 PM on November 11, 2010 [16 favorites]


"I hope to achieve this by appealing to the better nature of pedosexuals

...

The analogy, "Teaching cannibals table manners" seems to apply here.
posted by yeloson at 1:56 PM on November 11, 2010


"How To Become A Hedge Fund Manager" is likely next?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:57 PM on November 11, 2010 [11 favorites]


IANAL, but it strikes me that such editorial decisions could open them up to more risk. Once such a precedent is set, and it's established they will, under certain circumstances, make such decisions, their choice not to do so in the future might make them liable.

Or something.

Anyway, pick a random book at Amazon, and it is almost-guaranteed to have objectionable content to someone. Pick a random how-to book at Amazon, and it's likely to have instructions to do things that would be illegal somewhere. This may be a somewhat-weak slippery slope argument in a case this pronounced, that hits this many moral buttons (I do see that), but I don't see how it's not on a gradient.
posted by quarantine at 1:58 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


metafilter's affiliate code is hammering a pedophile book. Kind of weird to link to a product that doesn't exist.

I'm of mixed minds on this one, but support Amazon's right to take it down. People have a right to free speech, but sadly so does Amazon, so I can't come up with a single compelling argument on why they should carry it. PR nightmare, enables criminal activity, and is one a near universally despised topic. Delete away.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:59 PM on November 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


So when did Amazon become a public library? I'm having a hard time seeing this as censorship.
posted by jnrussell at 1:59 PM on November 11, 2010 [17 favorites]


I trust they'll promptly remove The Cannabis Grow Bible - which also facilitates criminal activity.

Please. Amazon has the right to police their content in whatever way they see fit. The "doesn't facilitate criminal activity" standard is one you've just made up out of thin air.
posted by naju at 1:59 PM on November 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


There are actual legal uses for a book on growing pot. Even if there are very few in the States, there are other places around the world. There is a fig leaf (pot leaf?) to hide behind... if it needs to hide at all. (High Times called to say hello.)

You need to be way, way fringe to get more than 90% of Americans against you. I'm pretty sure that pedophilia is up in the 99.9999999% against.
posted by andreaazure at 2:00 PM on November 11, 2010


Snooze. Non-story news makes non-story.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:01 PM on November 11, 2010


You probably need to drop a few nines there, andreaazure. A look at any sex offenders map will show you that there are a hell of a lot of people out there that are fine with pedophilia.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:01 PM on November 11, 2010


Why does anyone think that a retailer should be required to carry a particular product?
posted by bardophile at 2:01 PM on November 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


While I agree that we shouldn't censor books, or prohibit the sale of books, simply because they are offensive, I also know that Amazon isn't forced to sell every single book that doesn't contain illegal material. The discretion to reject a how-to guide on pedophilia seems like an easy decision.

It's not generally about First Amendment rights or promoting criminal activities; it's about the specific issue of the illegal act of pedophilia, and the lengths to which we can tolerate it in the medium presented.
posted by jabberjaw at 2:03 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't freak out when religious bookstores decide not to carry books by Dawkins. Why is it a big deal that Amazon removes something it doesn't want to sell?
posted by marble at 2:05 PM on November 11, 2010


I don't know if you've noticed this, marble, but many folks on the internet seem to have a whacky sense of entitlement, especially when it comes to monolithic structures (like Microsoft/Apple/Amazon/eBay/Craigslist).
posted by jnrussell at 2:10 PM on November 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


It's strange when people confuse big business for their own government. The First Amendment only applies to one of them.
posted by meowzilla at 2:11 PM on November 11, 2010 [15 favorites]


Thanks alot you jerks, they canceled my order.
My podiatrist friend Roger hasnt been on a date in years and I was hoping this would be just the thing to get him out of his slump.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 2:14 PM on November 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


I dont' know about censorship. I just read an interview with the author. Sorry but I have no "artistic" let alone personal respect for a man who said "oh yea you can kiss and fondle children, just don't penetrate them."

I just wanted to beat the shit out of him.
posted by stormpooper at 2:14 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh.

....disregard.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 2:15 PM on November 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


I don't freak out when religious bookstores decide not to carry books by Dawkins. Why is it a big deal that Amazon removes something it doesn't want to sell?

I think the big deal is that Amazon has steadfastly stood by its decision to sell the book, along with many other controversial items, citing free speech and its right as a private company. And now they've backpedaled on their original statement.
posted by kerning at 2:18 PM on November 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


The "doesn't facilitate criminal activity" standard is one you've just made up out of thin air.

From the last link:

Responding to the first wave of stories yesterday, an Amazon representative said... "Amazon does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts..."
posted by Joe Beese at 2:20 PM on November 11, 2010


After the whole Rapelay debacle, I thought their policy was no more complex than "we sell anything we can until we have to stop because of bad press."
The weird censorship explanation followed by backpedaling in this case seems consistent enough.
posted by heatvision at 2:28 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I suspect the book is still available somewhere, and, unless you believe that pedophiles in general are part of a secret network rather than sick, isolated individuals, getting banned so publicly on Amazon has to be the best job ever of publicizing it to its intended audience.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:29 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


The big story may be that Amazon backpedaled, but I think that ignores a larger point that Amazon is pretty savvy to:

You can't fight the internet, because it will destroy you.

So Amazon tried to take the high road and allow this vile book to remain on their site, but then the backlash rolled in and they were faced with a choice. Side with pedophiles and really vigilant free-speech activists, or side with the mob.

If they side with the mob, the only consequence is some (basically weak) outrage on a few blogs, and then business as usual. If they side with with the pedos and activists, they might feel good about themselves for being such Stalwart Protectors of Liberty but that would have quickly been washed away by the bitter tears they would all be weeping in the aftermath of a thousand angry pundits descending upon them with with cries for boycotting the evil, pernicious enablers at Amazon.com. Don't think for a minute that charmers like Hannity, O'Reilly, Beck wouldn't have had a field day with this (especially after Beck's last diss on the Amazon bestseller lists).

So Amazon, finding themselves in the middle of a possible shitstorm, decided it was less damaging to their business to alienate pedophiles and free speech advocates and placate the masses.

In short, Milton Friedman wins again.
posted by jnrussell at 2:35 PM on November 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's strange when people confuse big business for their own government. The First Amendment only applies to one of them.

Well, you're right on the law: the First Amendment is only legally binding on government.

But I also think this reaction is off in a couple ways.

First of all, does anyone mean to suggest that a government-run library or bookstore would be in violation of the First Amendment if it specifically chose not to carry any pro-pedophilia books? That's implausible.

Second, the principles underlying the First Amendment do apply to private companies (organizations, websites, etc.). It's a historically important text that expresses an important value: free speech. There's nothing wrong with caring about free speech in contexts other than government. So I'm fine with people bringing up the First Amendment even when it doesn't apply, as long as they're clear on the law. If Amazon decided not to carry Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion, that would be upsetting. It wouldn't be illegal. But the law isn't the only thing that matters to society.
posted by John Cohen at 2:40 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Amazon had initially defended the sale of the book, issuing a public statement that said, 'Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable. Amazon does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts, however, we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions.'

It is not clear if the e-book was removed from the Kindle store by Amazon or the self-publisher. The link to the original 'Pedophile's Guide' sale page now returns an error message. Amazon did not immediately respond Thursday to msnbc.com's requests for more information."*
posted by ericb at 2:41 PM on November 11, 2010


Once such a precedent is set, and it's established they will, under certain circumstances, make such decisions, their choice not to do so in the future might make them liable.

I can't imagine the circumstance in which this would be true.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:45 PM on November 11, 2010


"In 2002, Amazon.com cited the First Amendment as justification for offering another book that advocates adult-child sex, 'Understanding Loved Boys and Boylovers,' by David L. Riegel. (The paperback book is still available on the site.)

At that time, Amazon stated, 'Our goal is to support freedom of expression and to provide customers with the broadest selection possible so they can find, discover, and buy any title they might be seeking.'

On the slim-to-none chance such content was deemed 'obscene' by a jury of 12 individuals, Amazon would be held accountable. That the e-commerce site now allows self-publishing, that opened the doors for "Pedophile's Guide," increases the risk — but not by much. Given the prevalence of such content on the Internet, combined with historical precedent, prosecuters almost never bring obscenity charges to trial, [Frederick S.] Lane [,attorney and author of several books, including 'American Privacy: The 400-Year History of Our Most Contested Right'] said.

As it stands, a private company, Amazon has the right to sell whatever it wants as long as it's legal, and as such, offers books that cater to Holocaust deniers and hate groups, as well as graphic dogfighting and cockfighting videos.*
posted by ericb at 2:48 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sydney Morning Herald has the best coverage of this story. Aaron Cook wrote:
The culprits are believed to be international groups known as ''trolls'' who brag about their work on YouTube. (screenshot)
posted by vidur at 3:05 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Given that Amazon is the seller, not the publisher of this book, would they be on the hook like Paladin Press was about the book Hitman: a Technical Manual?

Just wondering if there's legal precedent or not here.
posted by Hactar at 3:06 PM on November 11, 2010


The culprits are believed to be international groups known as ''trolls'' who brag about their work on YouTube. (screenshot)

I <3 U MSM. Please, never change.
posted by stoneweaver at 3:23 PM on November 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's strange when people confuse big business for their own government.
I'm pretty sure they are the government now.
posted by PHINC at 3:30 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


vidur: "Sydney Morning Herald has the best coverage of this story. Aaron Cook wrote:
The culprits are believed to be international groups known as ''trolls'' who brag about their work on YouTube. (screenshot)
"

the Legendary On Line War Against Trolls (LOLWAT) is now inevitable
posted by idiopath at 3:36 PM on November 11, 2010 [18 favorites]


To be fair, Amazon's "shaky content guidelines" are probably written so that Amazon can refuse to distribute anything anywhere at their whim. To promise otherwise (ie: Amazon *will* publish your crappy book) would probably open them up to legal action (ie: Amazon said they would do something and they didn't).

This whole thing seems to be a modern take on stores that pull merchandise (rap CDs, Grand Theft Auto) when consumers become outraged, which happens every other week.
posted by meowzilla at 3:51 PM on November 11, 2010


I hope they get rid of that filth Lolita next.
posted by meehawl at 3:52 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


(self link) I wrote a slightly more in-depth piece than Mike's on the repercussions of Amazon's decision either way.

Some people think it's a non-story, and part of it is (Paul Carr wrote on that) but the part that mattered (at least to me) was what would happen when the biggest online distributor of e-books and such makes a decision for or against self-regulation? The rest of the world defines itself by that decision. Amazon was in a tough spot, and couldn't really be expected to maintain the no-censorship stance for very long.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 4:01 PM on November 11, 2010


I wish that book had remained. Then I could self-publish my own book to Amazon, "How to kill pedophiles...and get away with it!"
I would dedicate the book to Chris Hansen.
posted by MrMulan at 4:02 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Now that this book is gone, how will people ruin politicians by buying the book and having it shipped to the politician's house in the politician's name? Tsk.
posted by davejay at 4:20 PM on November 11, 2010


sadly, it wasn't his only book.

excerpts
posted by nadawi at 4:28 PM on November 11, 2010


And you're done.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:31 PM on November 11, 2010


The post title sounded like this book would be the exciting sequel to How to Good-bye Depression: If You Constrict Anus 100 Times Everyday. Malarkey? or Effective Way?
posted by adipocere at 4:54 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


So when did Amazon become a public library? I'm having a hard time seeing this as censorship.

Free speech is a moral issue, not just a legal one.

I don't look forward to the day when public libraries are gone, all books are sold by private entities and nobody is "censoring" (in the legal sense) but it's impossible to buy anything not approved by the majority.
posted by DU at 5:08 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would have liked to have read this book, if only for the anthropological value. And have it on my shelf just to freak visitors out (there are a few other odd titles there already). But not so much to have it on my shelf if one of my former violin students made an unjustified accusation.
posted by adoarns at 5:15 PM on November 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Related:
Apple Accused of Censorship after Porn Disappears from iPad Book Chart.

Apple's No-nipples Policy Means Fashion Mags Are Censoring Their iPad Editions.

Apple Rejects Book For Racy Content, Author Gets Book Deal.

Apple Censors Joyce's Ulysses.

Banned in Cupertino.

Apple Censorship: From The 'Kama Sutra' To 'Ulysses,' 9 Books And Book Apps Apple Has Censored Or Rejected.
posted by ericb at 5:21 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I trust they'll promptly remove The Cannabis Grow Bible - which also facilitates criminal activity.

bare with me Joe, lunacy has it's fall back position.

Joe, WTF should we do about this?
posted by clavdivs at 5:42 PM on November 11, 2010


With Apologies to Don McLean...

Bye, bye, pedophilia guide,
Took my sickness to Am-azon, but Am-azon was dry,
With the NAMBLA Boys using youthful hair dye,
Singin', "I wonder if the judge can be bribed?
I wonder if the judge can be bribed?"

posted by mreleganza at 5:48 PM on November 11, 2010


"Amazon is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful on-line retailer I've ever known in my life."




posted by clavdivs at 5:48 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would have liked to have read this book, if only for the anthropological value.

I'm vaguely wondering if I was the only person alive who downloaded the preview pages of this book [since I am secure in my job and if people look at the list of what I've downloaded, well, they'll get an eyeful, and then an earful about the first amendment].

It's positioning itself as how to be a person who is "in love with" young people but at the same time not breaking the laws etc. I'm not making apologies for it, I'm pretty sure it's also something we wouldn't carry in the library (actually can't because it's tough to lend Kindles bla bla) which becomes another interesting issue since we don't carry books on how to grow pot either even in states where it's decriminalized.

There are also weird vague guidelines at the public library, they just usually get tested when people flip out about gay penguins and not because someone is demanding that we stock somthing like this.
posted by jessamyn at 6:22 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


jessamyn - the other book, the one i linked, has a story about a 15 year old who was offered 8 bucks to get a blowjob by the ice cream man - i guess he falters on writing about breaking the law or not.
posted by nadawi at 6:31 PM on November 11, 2010


So, how did anyone innocently stumble across this thing? What kind of shit do you have to buy on Amazon for them to recommend a self-published pedo how-to?
posted by autoclavicle at 6:32 PM on November 11, 2010


I think Amazon's waffling back and forth was what made this an interesting story for me.

And awwww gay penguins. I adore And Tango Makes Three. It was the first book I had to defend a challenge against.
posted by morganannie at 6:32 PM on November 11, 2010


I don't look forward to the day when public libraries are gone, all books are sold by private entities and nobody is "censoring" (in the legal sense) but it's impossible to buy anything not approved by the majority.

Well, while we're indulging in apocalyptic fantasies, I'm not looking forward to the day when the robots prevent us by force from learning to read.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:34 PM on November 11, 2010


So, how did anyone innocently stumble across this thing?

Good question. And how on earth did it make it to #80 on the bestsellers list?
posted by morganannie at 6:35 PM on November 11, 2010


meowzilla: "It's strange when people confuse big business for their own government. The First Amendment only applies to one of them"

I wonder what the First Amendment will mean when people finally come to the realization that there are fewer and fewer differences between big business and government, to the point where there will be none at all.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:36 PM on November 11, 2010


if i see a book about Bestiality {college text},at a jumble sale do i buy it?
or wonder why it is for sale then worry about the place thats selling it.
posted by clavdivs at 6:47 PM on November 11, 2010


'Stennis Space Center is involved in recruiting new LEGO League teams in our service area.'
posted by clavdivs at 6:51 PM on November 11, 2010


jessamyn - the other book, the one i linked, has a story about a 15 year old who was offered 8 bucks to get a blowjob by the ice cream man - i guess he falters on writing about breaking the law or not.

As sick and frustrating as that stuff is to read, it does seem to serve a useful, non-criminal purpose to society, in that it offers instructive insight into how some pedophiles rationalize their actions.

Years ago, I had the opportunity to interview a group of convicted sex offenders in a local correctional facility so I could help draft screening guidelines for volunteers for a local mentoring program. These guys were all part of a rehabilitation program that was focused on teaching them how to recognize their stages of behavior in the sex offender cycle and interrupt it to keep themselves from offending. The grooming process was very much like the story described in the excerpts nadawi posted (or, for that matter, the Very Special Episode of Diff'rent Strokes starring Gordon Jump as the child molester). Interviewing these guys was a weird experience because they were all opening up and seemed to be taking responsibility for their crimes and making an effort to rehabilitate themselves.

On the other hand, I got viscerally angry reading those excerpts Nadawi posted, which seem fairly typical of the rationalization mentality of pedophiles. The rationalization seems to be based upon this false premise that a child has capacity to make adult decisions, and I wonder whether or not pedophiles are themselves emotionally retarded in some way which prevents them from understanding how warped it is to assume a child has the capacity to consent.

At any rate, I can't quite decide whether I approve of Amazon's decision here. In the hands of a sex offender, it serves no useful purpose except to facilitate their behavior, like giving a syringe full of heroin to an addict and inviting them to shoot up. On the other hand, I think it's important that people (who can stomach the reading) understand the mindset in order to protect their own kids.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:14 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I trust they'll promptly remove The Cannabis Grow Bible - which also facilitates criminal activity.
Cannabis-related activity may or may not involve a victim (in the sense of someone who does not or cannot give legal consent); pedophilic acts involve one by definition. False equivalences like this are a poor basis for discussion.

I wonder what the First Amendment will mean when people finally come to the realization that there are fewer and fewer differences between big business and government, to the point where there will be none at all.
They'll have to get past hero warriors Glenn Beck and Infowars first.
posted by anigbrowl at 8:12 PM on November 11, 2010


The Turner Diaries are still up.

So is Mein Kampf.

And Lolita.

Anarchists Cookbook?

Recipes for Disaster?

Improvised Munitions?

Pipe Bomb How-To

Zoophilia Erotica?


I'm no pedophile apologist. However, reading about something and doing something are two different things. RAWR OUTRAGE BOOK makes me sad.
posted by TomMelee at 8:17 AM on November 12, 2010


I would wager that Amazon hasn't gotten huge amounts of pushback over a very short period of time on any of those books.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:28 AM on November 12, 2010


Probably because the media didn't take them and run w/ them. Whaddya suppose would happen to them if, say, ol Glenny Beck decided to do a RAWR outrage story on them?
posted by TomMelee at 11:37 AM on November 12, 2010


Then Amazon would be presented with the same business decision they were in this case-- whether to cave to customer demands to remove a product, or to ignore said demands.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:45 AM on November 12, 2010


Right. I'm not arguing that they did or didn't do what was in their best interest as a company, nor that they did or didn't do something that made sense.

I'm saying in the context of access to materials and an arbitrary, hype-based frenzy, that deciding to remove a book based on the perception of that books ability to cause harm, especially in light of other books absolutely designed to cause damage (even if only to material), is silly.

So is the hype surrounding it.
posted by TomMelee at 12:02 PM on November 12, 2010


Colorado police probe threat against pedophilia author.
posted by ericb at 12:29 PM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm saying in the context of access to materials and an arbitrary, hype-based frenzy, that deciding to remove a book based on the perception of that books ability to cause harm, especially in light of other books absolutely designed to cause damage (even if only to material), is silly.

I agree. I guess I was reading into your comment an implication that Amazon was being hypocritical, or something, which I now understand was not your intention. I apologize.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:32 PM on November 12, 2010


For what it's worth, Recipes for Disaster is actually a fantastic book, and has nothing to do with the original piece of shit Anarchist's Cookbook that even the author wants removed from print...
posted by kaibutsu at 12:50 AM on November 16, 2010


Recipes for Disaster is available on archive.org (IA reader; full text)
posted by mrgrimm at 8:07 AM on November 16, 2010


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